Monday, March 21, 2011

The MOST IMPORTANT CHAPTER in the BIBLE - Part 2

(note: this entry is based on a sermon delivered on 3-20-11 by yours truly; not everything mentioned here was preached on during the sermon, and likewise there were some things stated in the sermon that are not included here. LORD permitting, videos of these sermons will be available soon, and a link to it will be added to these entries).
From last time, we finished the study including verse 20 -

vs. 20: "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept."

This phrase, 'first fruits' is very relevant; it refers to the first harvest of fruit that is grown with the promise of an even greater crop in the future. Just as the Bible commanded Israel to render to God their first fruits (in crops, in live stock, our first born children who were especially dedicated to the LORD) we as the church today, offer God the first fruits of our labor (working as unto the LORD and not human beings) and finances (as in tithes), our time in study of His Word, prayer, and fellowship, whatever ministry the LORD has given us, etc.

God offered up His First Born (a title for one who was pre-eminent, or rank #1), the LORD Jesus Christ on our behalf, and He has risen with a promise of even greater fruit, when all the church is likewise risen from the dead!

1 PETER 1:3-5 
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Now we pick it up with vs. 21-23:

1 COR 15:21-23 
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.

Adam represents the human race which has fallen into sin, therefore death is a part of our existence. However, Jesus Christ represents a NEW race with the Divine nature (2 PETER 1:4) as is evident in the true church of born again believers, and so we are inheritors of eternal life in JESUS! (see vs. 45-47 in reference to the first and last Adam).

The first fruits is when Jesus resurrected from the dead with a spiritual, resurrected body. Those who "slept" and are even now 'sleeping' will be raised up at His Return! They're not really dead in the sense that they are gone; just asleep in a sense because when the LORD comes and calls us, we (that is in our bodily consciousness) will wake up! There are some that teach the concept of 'soul sleep', that is, when a person dies they are unaware of anything and entirely unconscious, not sensing any reality of heaven or the presence of the LORD. This teaching is false and disproven quite ably from the scriptures.

There are souls under the altar in the book of Revelation that cry out to God, communicate with God, have memory of their former lives while on Earth, etc. (REV 6:9-11). Paul stated to be absent from tbe body is to be present with the LORD (2 COR 5:8).

No, our consciousness (spirit) will be very much aware of the glories of heaven and the glorious Person of Jesus when we die; its only our bodies that are asleep, but will be awakened to life eternal, albeit in a transformed state (we'll get into this momentarily).

1 COR 15:24-26 
Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

The time is coming when death will die, that is, "this last enemy" will be destroyed, but for who? Those who are in Christ Jesus and the world that they shall inherit (the new Earth!) where death will no longer be a part of our existence!

The LORD Jesus Himself is the victor over death -

HEBREWS 2:14-15 
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he [Jesus] also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

All other enemies at this time will be abased, that is, put down from any power or authority that they once had; this includes human beings (PSALM 2) and angelic beings as well COL 2:15.

Note vs. 25, what it says: "For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet."
The reign of the LORD Jesus Christ shall endure UNTIL He has put all enemies under the subjection of His rule; this will transpire when He physically returns to this rebel Earth, and begins to exercise His rulership over all the nations. Afterwards, He will still be KING of Kings and LORD of Lords, but that He will surrender ultimate rulership and authority to the Father as we see in the following verses:

1 COR 15:27-28 
For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.
And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

Today we still see rebellion and sin in this world; indeed such things are growing at an alarming rate! God's Word is disparaged even among so-called believers and churches; the Bible as the very Word of God is ridiculed in Universities and considered absurd. Prayer is banned from schools, the 10 Commandments are removed from our court rooms and an increasing state of "lawlessness" is evident.

Yet such actions and conduct are in direct rebellion against the KING and RULER of the Universe; in any other kingdom such things done against the command of its king would be considered treason and punishable by death! How much more so shall the Holy and Almighty King of all creation bring justice to those who mock His authority and trample His commandments underfoot!

Indeed, one day all of Christ Jesus' enemies will be brought low, and subjected under Him! As I am fond of saying, "There is no such thing as eternal injustice!"

ROMANS 14:11 
For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

PHILIPPIANS 2:9-11 
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Back to 1 Corinthians:

1 COR 15:29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?

This verse is somewhat obscure in its meaning, and as I consulted with various commentaries, each gave variations of meaning, or even different meanings altogether. Some suggest that this is in reference to those saints who have died, and others who have come to faith and were baptized, taking the place of those departed, filling in the ranks.

Others suggested that this was a pagan practice (baptism for the dead) that was carried over to the church.

Still others state that this was in reference to washing the dead prior to burial with a view towards the resurrection.

Which ever may be the case, Paul is arguing here that if there is no resurrection from the dead, what would be the need for these practices?

1 COR 15:30-33 
And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?
I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.
Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

If there is no resurrection, Paul states, then why should he and all Christians at this time in history when persecution, suffering and martyrdom were rampant endanger their own lives by remaining faithful to Christ and renouncing the things of this world, if in fact we have no hope for the resurrection unto eternal life?

Remember vs. 19 of this chapter: "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable."

Today its the same, when you examine the persecuted church all over the world; the one singular hope they have, that they cling dearly to, is to remain faithful to the name of JESUS, to not deny His Name, so that they may receive a great reward at the resurrection -

Consider Hebrews chapter 11, what's been popularly called 'The Hall of Faith':

HEBREWS 11:35b-40: 
. . . and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
(Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

May I encourage you to be in prayer for the persecuted church, and ask the LORD to grant tremendous grace, peace and strength for these suffering saints to remain steadfast and faithful to the end, even if it costs them their lives? Check out the following web site:

http://www.persecution.org/

and also: http://www.persecution.com/


Paul stated that he "die[d] daily" and we can take this two different ways; on the one hand he often faced peril and the possibility of physical death as a martyr of Jesus Christ (interesting that the word for "witness" in the Greek is "martos" the very word from which we get the word, martyr!), but that he also died daily to himself, denying his sinful nature, crucifying it so that Christ Jesus might live more fully through him (see GAL 2:20).

1 COR 15:34 
Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

In a rebuke towards the worldly outlook on life ("let us eat and drink and be merry for tomorrow we die") Paul exhorts the Corinthian saints to "awake to righteousness" which points out that they were asleep in a sense and living a lax life, not being disciplined in holiness by the power of the Spirit. Such conduct is indeed a shame, and may we all take this admonition (myself included!) to heart!

As we are passing through this world as pilgrims (1 PET 2:11-12) are we doing what we can to share "the knowledge of God" as we are commanded by the LORD? To proclaim His Gospel to a lost, dying world (MARK 16:15)?

1 COR 15:35 
But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?

Two questions are posed here: How does this 'resurrection' work? and What will these new bodies be like?

1 COR 15:36-38 
Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:
And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:
But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.

Paul relates death and resurrection to an agricultural analogy - what is planted gets 'obliterated' - it doesn't remain in seed form. Eventually it sprouts up out of the earth and it's very different looking and functions differently too!

See JOHN 12:24 regarding the "seed of Abraham" Who is Jesus Christ (GAL 3:16) by Whom all the world is being blessed!

1 COR 15:39-41 
All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.
There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.

Likewise in this world, there are various forms of animal life: aquatic, terrain, and aerial, all with 'flesh' of a different kind. Also the heavenlies have different bodies that vary in glory.

So too, there is the glory of this physical body we now have, though since the fall of humanity, this is far more limited than what God designed originally in the first man, Adam; and there will be a greater glory in the bodies we shall inherit!

1 COR 15:42-44 
So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

Note that when we are resurrected we will have a spiritual BODY; we won't be disembodied spirits floating around heaven for all eternity, but will have actual bodies but spiritual, not natural in being.

The LORD Jesus Christ Himself demonstrated this resurrected body in that He could appear instantly in the middle of a room without the use of a doorway; He could appear in a small town and in the next instant be in Jerusalem. He could transport to heaven (there to present the blood of atonement in the Temple of God (see HEB 9:23-24) and return to Earth once again so that He could "breathe" the Holy Spirit upon His followers (see JOHN 20:12).

Yet He could also be touched, handled and could eat food (see LUKE 24:38-43; JOHN 20:27; 1 JOHN 1:1).

Here we understand the distinction from resurrection, and simply being raised from the dead; there is a difference.

The LORD Jesus raised people from the dead such as the widow from Nain's son, Jairus' daughter and most notably Lazarus (LUKE 7:11-6; 8:41-42, 49-56 and JOHN 11:1-44) but all of these died again!

Jesus declared in

JOHN 11:25-26
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? (See also JOHN 8:51-53).

Jesus lives and dies no more!

ROMANS 6:9 
Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him

Continuing in 1 CORINTHIANS and getting a 'wrap up' lets look at the following verses:

1 COR 15:45-50 
And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man [is] the Lord from heaven.
As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

The life of Adam was imparted to him by the breath of God; and this life was sustained by God, the Author of all life; he didn't have life in himself that was self sustaining.
However the last Adam (Jesus Christ) does have life in Himself and He can impart this life to others just as God the Father imparts life (see JOHN 5:26; 10:28; 17:2-3).

Each of these two Adams (the original Adam and Christ, the 2nd Adam) produce after their own kind:
The first Adam - his descendents are of the earth, are sinners by nature, and produce a race of sinners.
The second Adam - his 'descendants' are of heaven (though still residing on this Earth for a time) and are a holy people, each of them produced as a new race of humans by direct interaction with God Almighty via the spiritual rebirth (JOHN 1:12; 3:3-5)

We now bear the image of the earthly regarding our physical bodies, but one day we shall bear the image of the heavenly, with out resurrected bodies!

ROMANS 8:29 
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Right now we who are saved are being conformed to the image of the Son in our minds (if we are yielding to Him, letting Him do His work in us) that results in a life like that of Jesus with all of His attributes of love, holiness, etc. This is an ongoing process right now that will continue until we see Him face to Face!

ROMANS 8:30 
Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

When we see Him, then we will be "glorified" as is stated above. We have been called of God to enter into the kingdom He has prepared for all who will receive Jesus Christ and His atonement for our sins. Those who do so are now justified (declared sinless before our Holy God!) and these who are free from the penalty of sin: death and hell, are one day to be glorified so that we will no longer have a sin nature, but only the nature of Jesus' holiness abiding in us! WOW!!
All of this is happening to and for us in accord to God's foreknowledge and predistination; He Who knows all things: past, present and future; He knows those that are His and those who receive His Son (see JOHN 13:20).

"Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" Jesus declared that unless one is born again, he cannot see (perceive, know) it, nor can he enter into it. Neither can we who ARE born again enter into it with these bodies we now have.

1 COR 15:51 "Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,"

I once saw this scripture posted on the door of a church nursery! A slightly different application there, huh?

There are some of us that when the LORD returns, will be alive and well on planet Earth, and we along with those who have died as believing Christians will all be "caught up" together with the LORD, meeting Him in the air, and we shall from that point on, forever dwell in the LORD's prescence, never to be parted from Him again! HALLELUJAH!

1 THESS 4:16-17 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

1 COR 15:52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

This resurrection/rapture (The rapture involves the living who while yet alive are changed; the resurrection are for those who have died - for the church this is the one and the same event!) was believed by the Old Testament saints such as Abraham (GEN. 22:5; HEB 11:9) as well as Job (JOB 19:25-26).

The Sadducees, religious leaders in Israel in the days of Jesus were very liberal in their theology, and didn't believe in the resurrection from the dead (MATT 22:29). Today its the same among Christian liberals, such as Marcus Borg (referred to in Part 1 of this article) as well as most (if not all) deeply involved in the Emergent Church Movement.

This event will transpire "in a moment" - how many moments are there in a single day? At any one of these moments we can expect to find our LORD returning for us! Are we watching, waiting, working for the LORD until He returns? One of the purposes of prophecy is to clue us in about God's time table, and as we see these various biblical prophecies being fulfilled, we understand His Return is that much sooner (LUKE 21: 28)!

1 COR 15:53-55 
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

Compare this passage with some biblical commentary found in:

2 TIM 1:8-10 
Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:

Once again we see the connection between the Gospel and the resurrection and eternal life, with afflictions and testimony working in between the two.

1 COR 15:56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

Law brings order; breaking the law brings consequences. If there were no road signs designating speed limits, no one driving could break the law. But God has ordained Law to be obeyed; the problem is we are powerless to obey these holy Laws because of our sinful nature. Thus, in God revealing His Holy Law to us, we understand our need for salvation (see 1 TIM 1:9; ROM 7:7; GAL 3:24).
Sin is the breaking of the Law, and it brings the consequences of death and hell; there is only one remedy for sin, and that is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (JOHN 1:29).

1 COR 15:57-58 
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Victory is assured for the child of God! See 2 COR 2:14 and 1 JOHN 5:4.

Any and all things we do for the LORD's sake and a love for Him and His saints will know great reward; even if after years of service to Him, we may forget the things we have done that have borne good fruit, but He hasn't! It's all recorded and waiting to be acknowledged on that Day when He inspects our lives we lived here in this world, and renders reward for faithful (note: FAITHFUL, not necesarily HUGE, SUCCESSFUL, IMPRESSIVE, WELL KNOWN) service to Him.

Such reward will be a means for us to worship God as we acknowledge with thankful hearts that such deeds we have done would have been impossible if not for His grace, and His Spirit at work in our hearts and lives!

On that Day we shall no more weep, there will be no more sorrow or struggles or pain or weariness; no more injustice, evil, corruption, oppression, or violence; no more tribulation and trouble - these things along with this entire rebel planet will finally come to an end (remember vs. 24-25).

PHILIPPIANS 3:8-10 
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

This concludes this rather exhaustive study of 1 Corinthians chapter Fifteen. In regards to the Gospel being the foundation of our salvation, and in turn the resurrection (and the preceding atonement for our sins by the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ) being the foundation of the Gospel, I thought it would be good to include this rather remarkable insight with thanks to Dr. Chuck Missler where I first learned this:

The GOSPEL In CODE - Genesis chapter 5
May the LORD bless you all in the Name of the LORD JESUS CHRIST, our BLESSED HOPE!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good study. You didn't mention the 144 thousand. Rev 7 i understand to be the sealed 12 tribes of Israel. What are your thoughts on the number it sounds like they are the only ones going to heaven in the rapture???

James J. Fire said...

Greetings!
The 144,000 mentioned in Revelation are of course of the nation of Israel; 12,000 from each tribe.
These will be witnesses to the world much like the original 12 Jewish apostles whom the LORD chose to be with Him 2,000 yrs ago. Since the rapture involves the church, not Israel, the 144,000 will not be "translated" as the dead in Christ, and we which are alive and remain will be.
Thank God that when the trumpet sounds, we shall be with our Blessed Hope, the LORD Jesus, and God will still have His holy witnesses, the 144,000 plus the two witnesses and even angels besides proclaiming the everlasting Gospel!